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10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilts of 2019

More and more backpackers are switching from sleeping bags to backpacking quilts because they’re lighter weight, more compressible, and more comfortable, especially for side sleepers. While top quilts have always been popular with the hammock crowd because they’re easier to use in the confined space of a hammock, they’re also a great sleeping system option for ground sleepers, when coupled with a sleeping pad. Backpacking quilts are ideal for summer and warm weather since they’re so easy to vent if you’re too hot. But in freezing temperatures, starting at 30 degrees and below, most backpackers still prefer a sleeping bag because the wraparound fabric is less drafty.

Here are our choices for the top 10 best backpacking quilts based on price, insulation, temperature rating, weight, features, versatility, sizing, and availability (see below for detailed explanations of each criteria.) Most of these quilts are made and sold by so-called cottage manufacturers, which range in size from one-man shops to medium-sized businesses that employee dozens of people. All of them produce very high quality products that are significantly lighter weight and better performing than the quilts produced by mass-market gear companies like ENO, Kammock, Sea-to-Summit, or NEMO.

The advantage of buying a custom or semi-custom-made quilt from a cottage manufacturer is that you can personalize it with added features, higher quality/lighter weight insulation, or custom fabric colors. An increasing number of quilt makers also offer budget quilts made with a limited set of options that are much less expensive and often available immediately. These are a great option if you’re trying a backpacking quilt for the first time and overwhelmed by the customization choices available.

1. Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

Revelation 2
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation is a quilt that can be used in a hammock or for sleeping on the ground. It’s available in a wide range of different lengths, widths, colors, temperature ratings, and fabric weights. The Revelation comes with a pad attachment system and a zippered/ drawstring footbox and half taper. You can also choose from three different grades of treated, water-resistant down: 850 fill power duck down and 900 or 950 fill power goose down. A basic made-to-order Revelation 40 weighs 14.32 oz. Price Range: $225.00-$510.00. Read our Revelation Quilt review.

Buy at Enlightened Equipment


2. MassDrop x Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

Massdrop Rev 2

The MassDrop Revelation Quilt is a ready-made budget backpacking manufactured by Enlightened Equipment. If you’re not familiar with MassDrop, they sell small batches of a specific product called “drops” over a multi-day period, giving increasingly deeper discounts when higher volumes are sold. While the specs of the quilts they sell can vary from batch to batch, they’re usually comparable to the pre-made quilts sold directly by Enlightened Equipment, with slightly heavier shell fabrics and lower fill power down insulation. Despite the differences, they’re high-quality backpacking quilts and priced to move! Read our (Mass)Drop Revelation 20 Quilt Review.

Buy at MassDrop

3. Hammock Gear Burrow Econ Quilt

The Hammock Gear Burrow Econ is a quality top quilt that’s available at a very aggressive discount because it’s only available in a limited range of colors, sizes, and temperature ratings. For example, a 17.26 oz, regular-sized Econ 40 quilt only costs $120.00, which is a great deal. It comes with 800 fill power durable water-resistant duck down, which is just as warm as 800 fill power goose down (see explanation.) The Burrow can be used in a hammock or with a sleeping pad using a ($5) pad attachment kit. It’s also available with a vented snapped foot box or one that’s sewn shut, which is better for colder weather. Price range $110.00-$165.00. Read our Burrow Econ review.

Buy at Hammock Gear

4. Loco Libre Ghost Pepper Quilt

LL Ghost Pepper
The Loco Libre Gear Ghost Pepper is a down quilt made with a unique chevron style baffle, which limits the amount of down shift by catching it in the corners that the baffle forms every time it changes direction. This eliminates cold spots and means that the down stays on top, where you want it, so you can stay warm. The Ghost Pepper is available in a wide range of widths and lengths, color choices, insulation types, and foot box styles. You can even add a sleeping pad attachment system. This can all be very confusing for first-time quilt buyers, but they are very patient and happy to explain “the why” before you buy. Some of the key options offered are 800 duck or 900 goose fill power water-resistant down, a draft collar, different taper styles, a drawstring vented or closed footbox, and added insulation. A basic Ghost Pepper 40 weighs in at 14.5 oz. Price Range: $154.00-$474.00. Read our Ghost Pepper Review

Buy at Loco Libre

5. UGQ Outdoor Bandit Top Quilt

UGQ Bandit

The UGQ Bandit has a unique baffle design that separates the torso insulation from the foot box insulation so you can put extra insulation where it’s needed most. The Bandit is also highly customizable and available in a wide range of widths, lengths, and temperatures. You can choose untreated 800 fill power duck, 850 goose, or 950 goose down, several different fabric options (in a multitude of colors) with different breathability and DWR characteristics, a draft collar, full or no taper, and three different foot box options. A sleeping pad attachment system is also included for free. A basic Bandit 40 weighs 14 oz. Price Range: $160-$400. Read our UGQ Bandit Review.

Buy at UGQ Outdoor

6. Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Sniveller Top Quilt

JRB Sierra SNIVf
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Sniveller is a 25-30 degree (24 oz) quilt can be used for sleeping in a hammock or on the ground and includes perimeter tabs for a ground attachment system. It’s unique because it can also be worn as an insulated garment, with a non-snagging, mixed hook & loop re-sealable head hole in the chest. The hole seals tightly when not used so there’s no heat loss through it. You can also choose between a drawstring or sewn in foot box. The Sniveller is available in two lengths and filled with 800 fill power goose down, either treated or untreated. Price Range: $270.00-$280.00

Buy at Jacks ‘R’ Better

7. Katabatic Gear Flex Quilt

KB Flex 40
The Katabatic Gear Flex is a quilt that can used in a hammock or on the ground, coupled with a sleeping pad. Weight varies by temperature rating, but a standard-sized Flex 40 weighs 16.9 oz. It’s available with regular or HyperDRY waterproof goose down and comes with a sleeping pad attachment system to help prevent side drafts. The’ Flex also has a very desirable draft collar that snugs around your neck and prevents heat from escaping when you move around at night. The Flex footbox can be zippered closed and has a draw-string vent, or you can  unzip it completely and use it as a blanket. Katabatic Gear has a well-deserved reputation for making quilts that exceed their temperature rating. Price range $260.00-$435.00. Read our Flex 40 Quilt Review.

Buy at Katabatic Gear

8. Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt

Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt

The Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit Quilt is the only top 10 quilt made with synthetic insulation, but it is an excellent option for long journeys or cold temperatures where moisture accumulation is an issue. The Spirit is insulated with ClimaShield APEX, which is the most thermally efficient synthetic quilt insulation available. It does not require sewn-through baffles to stabilize the insulation, so it retains all of its insulation value. The Spirit Quilt is available in 28, 38, and 48 F temperature ratings. It’s intended for ground sleepers, comes with a pad attachment system, and is sized narrow to reduce weight. A 38 degree quilt ranges between 15 and 21 oz in weight, based on sizing and several options. Price range: $215-$245.

Buy at Mountain Laurel Designs

9. Nunatak Arc UL Quilt

Nunatak arc-ul

The Nunatak Arc UL is a quilt designed for long-distance hikers. It’s available in four different temperature ratings: 40, 30, 20 and 10 degrees, in a wide variety of lengths and widths, with or without a draft collar, with or without a pad attachment system, and several different outer shells and liner fabrics that emphasize breathability or water repellency. One of the unique options available on the Arc UL is the installation of external snaps that allow you to layer a synthetic quilt with it for cold weather use. The Arc UL is also available with 900 fill power HyperDry goose down, treated or untreated. A basic, regular sized Arc UL 40 weighs 14.8 oz. Price Range: $290.00-$550.00.

Buy at Nunatak

10. Zpacks Solo Quilt

Zpacks Solo Quilt
The Zpacks Solo Quilt is available in multiple widths, lengths, colors, and temperature ratings. It has a closed foot box and includes a strap so you can attach it to a sleeping pad. An elastic cord is used to tighten the bag around your neck to prevent drafts. The Solo Quilt is insulated with 900 fill power goose down. A standard width, 6′ long, 35-degree quilt weighs 14.8 oz and costs $339. Multiple lengths and widths are available at different price points.

Buy at Zpacks

Backpacking Quilt Selection Criteria

Here is a list of factors to consider when selecting an ultralight backpacking quilt.

Quilt Insulation

High-quality goose and duck down with fill powers of 800, 850, 900, and 950 provide excellent insulation by weight and are widely preferred by backpackers because they’re so lightweight. In addition to excellent compressibility, quilts insulated with down will last for decades of use if properly cared for. Some manufacturers only offer down that’s been treated with a water-repellent coating, while others prefer to offer it unadulterated. Down is naturally water-resistant so the jury is still out on whether “treated” down lasts as long and insulates as well in the real world vs. a testing lab. Regardless, with a little care and common sense, you can keep a down quilt dry by carrying it in a waterproof stuff stack, picking good campsites that don’t flood in rain, and airing it out occasionally in the sun.

Quilt Temperature Ratings

The introduction of standardized sleeping bag temperature ratings by the outdoor industry substantially improved their reliability. Many manufacturers had overstated their temperature ratings by as much as 10 degrees before that standard was introduced. No such testing standard exists for backpacking quilts, so you’re forced to rely on their reputation and customer reviews. When buying a backpacking quilt, the current rule of thumb is to purchase one rated for 10 degrees below your needs to ensure you’ll be warm enough. There is an enormous incentive for ultralight quilt makers to quote low gear weights, so read their customer reviews carefully.  Women may want to add 15-20 degrees of insulation because they sleep colder than men due to lower body mass. No one makes women’s specific quilts yet, although there is an obvious need for them.

Gear Weight

While gear weight is important, be careful not to sacrifice your comfort by selecting a quilt that won’t keep you warm in the conditions you need it to. In fact, insulation is usually the lightest weight component of a quilt, where the bulk of its weight comes primarily from the fabric used to make it. When choosing fabrics, consider their breathability and whether they have a DWR coating, which can be important if the foot of your quilt gets wet regularly  If you plan on using your quilt heavily, consider getting a heavier inner shell fabric as this is where the greatest wear and tear occurs over the long-term.

Standard and Custom Quilt Features

Most ultralight backpacking quilts are pretty similar when it comes right down to it. But there’s something unique about each of manufacturer’s quilts listed above that improves their performance in a unique way. For example, the use of continuous or chevron-shaped baffles, draft collars, zoned insulation, closed foot-boxes and external snaps for quilt layering, all improve cold-weather performance. A strapless pad attachment system is far more convenient and comfortable than ones that rely on straps, while a head-hole enables multi-use as a garment. Look for these differentiators because they can have a profound influence on your backpacking experience.


Some backpacking quilts can be used in a wider variety of ways than others, which may be an important factor based on the way you like to backpack. For example, quilts that can be fully unzipped can be used as a blanket in a wider range of temperatures that those with closed foot boxes. Wider width quilts can be used for hammocks and ground sleeping, something to consider if you plan on doing both.

Backpacking Quilt Sizing

When sizing a quilt, it’s important to understand whether the length includes the foot-box or not, since several inches of fabric are lost when forming a foot box. Quiltmakers often provide recommended heights for users when quoting sizes, so look for these. Hammock users can usually get by with narrower quilts than ground sleepers because they use underquilts that wrap around their sides and insulate them. Ground sleepers need the extra fabric and insulation to tuck under their sides to prevent drafts.

Quilt Availability

Many of the quilt makers who specialize in highly customized quilts often have very long backorder times (2 months or more)  during periods of high demand. If you need a quilt and can’t wait, you’re probably better off buying a less customized, off-the-shelf model. This one factor, more than any other, can often determine which quilt you select.

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  1. Thanks for your in-depth comprehensive research into backpacking quilts. I use cold weather sleeping bags for temps at 30 and below but became intrigued with quilts for warmer camping after reading your article. I plan to backpack primarily in the upper Midwest from mid-May to Mid October- some warm summer nights in the upper 60’s and spring-fall lows in the mid 30’s. What temp rating(s) quilt would you recommend assuming I open up the quilt on warm nights? Also, what are your favorite quilt/pad strap systems?

    I’m grateful for your articles on ultralight backpacking, applying your learnings has greatly improved my enjoyment backing on 100+ mile hikes.

    • While I’ve used quilts down to about 10 degrees, I prefer using them in weather 35 degrees and up. (Below 20, I’m almost always in a mummy on the ground, except if I’m in a hammock, where I only use quilts.) Quilts are simply more drafty than a mummy bag, regardless of the strap system you use. If you need a quilt to take you down to 30 or below, I strongly recommend you get one with a draft collar. I also can’t overstate the importance of a sleeping pad with an R-value of at least 4. While you can fuss around with strap systems – they all do the same thing – you’re best defense against cold weather drafts is to use a lightweight bivy sack to block all side drafts. It also makes a good “bed sheet” when its too warm to use a quilt in summer. This may all sound terribly conservative and old school, but there are so many ways to save gear weight with modern UL gear, that there’s no reason to skimp on comfort and a good nights sleep. Back to you original question. I think a 40 degree quilt is probably the best multi-purpose temp for your needs, since you’re probably carrying some insulated clothing you can augment it with during shoulder seasons.

      • Thank you, Philip,

        I agree with your recommendation of buying a 40 degree quilt, since I expect 80% of the camping nights this season will have temps ranging from 65 deg to 45 deg so I can wear extra layers during the colder, shoulder seasons.

        I assume opening up the 40 deg quilt like a blanket and/or opening the foot box can help me regulate temperature even on warmer nights in the upper 60’s?

        Also, I will be camping in a tent at night for most evenings so I will be protected from wind. Your eye for detail explaining the many attributes, benefits, weaknesses of the lightweight quilt offerings really helped me determine the best quilt for me. I look forward to a new, lighter weight season of camping with my “big 4” now under 5 lbs!!!

        I will plan to use my warmer down sleeping bags for colder weather camping.

      • Exactly! Just flip the quilt aside like a blanket. A drawstring style foot box vent can help too, of course. Glad to help.

  2. im looking to replace my mld synthetic 40 quilt(now a 60 2 yrs later, it kinda went flat). looking at an ff flicker 30 or 40. which would be better if I decide to do a thru hike of the AT?

  3. I’m looking for a top quilt for my hammock, what do you think about the Thermarest Vesper?

    • I think it’s on the wide side at 58″, but it’d be a good choice if you spend a lot of time on the ground too. The box baffling they use is much more thermally efficient than the sewn through baffles used by many of the other hammock-specific quilt vendors.

      • Thanks, I was thinking that also. I like it a bit wide cause when I’m on the ground I turn like a rotisserie chicken.

    • Langleybackcountry

      A couple notes:
      Katabatic also offers an 850 duck down option for less money (obviously at a slight weight penalty). I have a Flex 30 with it and have been very happy so far. I questioned them very closely before going that route.

      Edit note: The Nunatak description says they use “HyperDry goose down, treated or untreated.” As far as I know there is no untreated dry down since the treatment is what makes it “dry.”

  4. A word of caution for anybody thinking of buying the 20 degree Massdrop quilt; add 10 degrees to the temp rating. While the Massdrop Revelation has the weight of a 20 degree quilt, the loft is inadequate. I purchased and compared to my 30 degree EE Revelation made in Winona and the 30 degree quilt had more loft. If you check the reviews on Massdrop, they bear this out.

    • Rex. I’m not disagreeing with you, but I always wonder about such reports, because I don’t know whether people are using the quilts properly, for example, with a sleeping pad of R-value of at least 4. If you don’t insulate properly from below, you’re certainly going to be colder than what the manufacturer recommends.

  5. I’ve found one very minor (going on idiosyncratic) advantage to using a quilt: it makes living in a end-opening, one-person tent much easier.

    I’d previously used a Big Agnes Fly Creek one-person tent with a sleeping bag, but gave it up for a side-opening tent 3/4 of a pound heavier) because of getting in and out. With a sleeping bag, I would climb in and, due to the volume and design of the tent, end up sitting on the pad and bag about where my shoulders would go. Then, I’d do the sit-and-spin routine followed by scooting down inside the bag until my feet were in the bottom. This is far less graceful in practice than in writing. By the time I finished, the bag was quite nicely twisted up around me.

    When I began using a quilt (part of a get-weight-as-low-as-possible frenzy), I decided to take the lighter Fly Creek tent again. Much to my surprise, it had become much easier to use! Now, when I crawled in, I sat on my sleeping pad, spun around, scooted – and then pulled the quilt over me (it had been waiting, down at the foot of the tent.) No twisting!

    Like I say, a very minor point – but a big deal to me, eliminating a “perishing nuisance” from my nightly routine – several times, since there’s usually at least one late-night stroll with an exit from and re-entry into my tent.

  6. Just curious, REI’s quilt is not a top 10? Your review said it was decent.

  7. I would definitely recommend checking out Cedar Ridge Outdoors quilts, the positive feedback I’ve seen on these on many sites and blogs is almost universally off the charts positive. The temperature ratings are said to be very accurate and comfort rated as well. I just ordered one for my daughter as well..

  8. Went to check out Nunatak stuff on their website. Online ordering is suspended due to order backlog. Multi-month wait time for currently ordered products. FYI.

  9. I was considering a Warbonnet top and under quilt for my Ridgerunner hammock. Curious as to why their quilts aren’t considered in the top 10 considering the quality of their hammocks and tarps. Anybody have any input? I’m new to hammocking and definitely to quilts. Thanks.

    • They killed off their old top quilt and are selling something new. Might be good, but so far untested in the market.

    • I use a ridge runner with a 0 degree warbonnet underquilt and a Jacks are better 40 degree snivler on top. I love it. I used this setup last weekend on the MA/NH border we got a light frost and I was fine. The high sierra snivler is my go to top quilt at anything under 30 degrees, great products. The ability to wear the top quilt like a poncho is very nice while sipping coffee on cold mornings.

  10. Just read this (thanks!) and now I know why I am on the Katabatic wait list. ;)

    I never thought too much about R value of sleeping pads, but this got me thinking. I’ve always been in mummy down or synthetic bags, so does the part of that type of bag that I’m laying on top of and compressing (as opposed to a quilt) add to the R value of the pad I’m sleeping on? I hope that makes any sense.

    I can’t imagine there is any appreciable R value to compressed synthetic or down material, but if there is, then when I get a quilt, I may have to rethink my sleeping pad.

    • There’s no appreciable insulation value, although you get some benefit because the sleeping bag blocks drafts from chilling you.
      But if you don’t have a pad with an R-value of 4 with a quilt, you won’t experience its true temperature rating.

  11. I’m thinking of the ZenBivy Light 25 deg quilt. Why didn’t this company make it to the list?

  12. I’m very experienced, but I have freak accidents in the woods. I’ve gotten my down quilt wet twice, and it screwed me over. I stick with APEX, it’s much cheaper, only a couple ounces heavier, and stays warm even when soaked. I had my quilt in northern WI when I was doing a survival school, and it got soaked, I just squeezed it out and slept fine, it was 38 that night, with a 30 degree quilt, woke up and it was dry.

    Down just can’t hack it when the going gets tough, it’ll fail. It isn’t just the water thing. Newer synthetics also last longer and are warmer than the old ones. The only thing down really beats APEX in is bulk. Even if my bag doesn’t get wet, I’m always paranoid it will, and it ruins my hike. I did use a 0 degree down quilt that I made from a sleeping bag on my 2010 thru, and it worked great, started March 5th and it was snow and cold for a solid month. I’d probably use it again in weather like that, mostly dry snow.

    I think we will see synthetics surpass down within 10 years, maybe earlier.

  13. I have a Western Mountaineering Ultralight that I use as a quilt all the time. I’ts really light and allows me to zip it up tight if it gets too cold.

  14. The Sea to Summit Ember 3 quilt is suited to a female shape as it is 120cm at the shoulder and 150cm at the hip.

    Also great for side sleepers.

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